Good night moon

It’s 8:20 pm. I listen closely outside the door of  the boys’ room.

Blessed silence.

Drill Sergeant Mama arrived on the scene at my house tonight the moment dinner ended. She allowed a tolerable amount of playtime, negotiated dustups as they arose between brothers, ushered children into the bath tub, supervised a dance party, worked a puzzle, and then began the great attempt to wind them down for books and bed.

Yeah right, like this happens easily.

The boys rock out to Mary Poppins’ chimney sweeps singing “Step in Time”, and then we head downstairs. Pajamas. Glasses of water. They are completely wound up, their little minds active and awake.

Let’s. Read. Books, she said nicely, gritting her teeth.

Am I the only parent who when, as the hour approaches 8 pm, feels like she is just completely, entirely done?

I am not with my kids all day because I work full time, and  I treasure my time with them. The problem is that nearly every hour of my day is devoted to a) kids or b) work, thus leaving c) me or d) my partner and me conclusively out of the picture. Instead of winning a $640 mega-million lottery, I wish for a mega-million hour day (although both would be fabulous).

I don’t mean to be the cranky mama. But when I left the daycare tonight with the littlest screaming bloody murder in my arms – every other parent in the parking lot’s eyes on me – it didn’t bode well. Here’s how my evening played out.

We arrive home. One kid is happy. The other is still mad that I made him leave his big brother’s super fun and fascinating preschool classroom. They are both hungry. I scramble to put out veggies and crackers and throw something frozen in the oven.

We go outside (it’s not raining, so we cannot resist). Everyone is happy now.

We admire tiny ants crawling on trees and pick up dog poop (this is really fun for the littlest).

We look at more tiny ants. We march around in the muddy yard and admire the small starts on the garden beds. Littlest child takes off boots to walk around in muddy socks.

Eldest child climbs tree. Finds more ants. Littlest child yells for Mama to pick him up so he, too, can see the ants.

Dinner might be burning.

Where is Daddy?

Eldest and littlest are convinced to come inside to eat. They both eat good dinners – leftover pasta with red sauce, raw veggies, and frozen artichoke puffs that contain mostly cheese and a little spinach.

Daddy arrives home. Everyone cheers.

Let’s return to the concept we call Bedtime.

In philosophy, an important distinction is whether an object is considered abstract or concrete. Unfortunately, my young philosophers prefer to define the concept of Bedtime abstractly, while Drill Sergeant Mama insists Bedtime is a concrete activity that results in real, live sleeping children.

I give up briefly and leave the imps children on our king-sized bed to begin the wind down routine with their father while I drink a glass of wine I toss soiled clothes into the washer and fold a gigantic pile of clean clothes.

Before heading to the laundry room, I give strict instructions. Brush teeth. Read three books. Be quiet. You may snuggle under a blanket if necessary.

Moments later, crashing sounds and peals of laughter resound above me. Tickling fights on the bed ensue. Both children are now jumping as high as they can while their father eggs them on. I can’t quite tell, but I think they are pretending to be pirates on a sinking ship.

This is Not.Winding.Down.

But Daddy did get their teeth brushed.

Drill Sergeant Mama returns to the scene to announce darkly that there are now seven minutes remaining for books, and then it’s Time For Bed.

Chagrined, the boys actually settle down for a few minutes, and the eldest picks out the book that I least enjoy: a preschool friendly book filled with images of gigantic spiders – bigger than lifesize. The photographs are blown up to frog, no, cat-like proportions, and are seriously creepy. As we read, both boys take turns pretending to be attacked by spiders, be spiders, or transform into enemies of spiders who prevent attacks with their “force fields”. Never mind the littlest can’t talk much. He is totally into this.

When I drag them away from the spider book, we read Byron Barton’s Planes and Mama, Will It Snow Tonight? by Nancy Carlstrom. We are transitioning into a wonderful moment where both boys go to bed at the same time. In the same room. As you may imagine, it’s not going over so well with the eldest, but since he gets to wear a totally awesome headlamp from REI and take a notebook, books and a pen to bed, he concedes.

Ahhhh. Good Night Moon.

Good Night Moon



27 thoughts on “Good night moon

  1. InkyTwig says:

    Oh, the joys of being a mom. I know this well even being a stay-at-home mom – it never ends and bedtime is a blessed thing. 🙂

  2. kepadilla says:

    One of your very best. Loved it !!!!

  3. Patty says:

    You brought back a lot of memories for me, Sara. Another wonderful post.

  4. Mary LaBounty says:

    Ahhh, a wonderful read. I remember one night a long, long time ago when the aforementioned Drill Sergeant’s mother helped her mother put the 2 youngest siblings “to bed”. As our Mother (the aforementioned Drill Sergeant’s Grandmother) hollered up the stairs “GET TO BED”, the Drill Sergeant’s very own mother helped us into bed, gleeful, laughing, loud and racous, and encouraged us to respond with “We ARE in Bed!!!”. I do so love and miss my mom so much, and I’m quite certain her words were through gritted teeth, too. In fact, how much my own teeth have worn down! Such a wonderful, real mommy you are! Thanks for sharing Sara!

  5. Mayor Gia says:

    Hahah wowww that is exhausting!

  6. Robbie says:

    It can seem never ending. There are days I wish they had an off switch so I could put them in bed and that would be it….

  7. Oh my. That does sound tiring!

    We managed to pare bedtime routine to 10-15 minutes – 2 books, a made up goodnight song, kiss goodnight, lights off and we’re done!

    So when the baby comes in a month, well, that should be interesting.

    • skpadilla says:

      Yep, it makes things interesting! The actual bedtime routine is pretty quick, it’s those two hours between dinner and bed that tend to stretch on and on!

  8. I love how you compared abstract and concrete thinking…and that your kids were the abstract thinkers.

    This story just encourages me to keep the kids in the cribs as long as possible…

    • skpadilla says:

      Thank you! Lately my youngest plays a game with my oldest when they wake up in the morning. He throws all of his stuffed animals and pillow out of the crib, and his big brother tosses them back in!

  9. sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms says:

    This rings so true for anyone who has to manage the nighttime routine. Nice details and story, Erin

  10. genieinablog says:

    Bedtime = frustrating & exhausting. I don’t know how many times i’ve lost it after they get too rowdy during story time or I’ve been called in there 20 times.

  11. genieinablog says:

    Bedtime = exhausting and frustrating. I don’t know how many times I’ve list it because they get too rowdy at story time or they’re calling me in there 27 times. I hate ending it on a bad note.

  12. It’s funny, though. I am 26 and still a very big proponent of Bedtime being an abstract concept.

    That being said, morning suck. And the concept of “sleeping forever” is very, very concrete.

  13. Not there yet, but this brought back many memories from when I was a nanny in college. I swear, kids have prolonging bedtime down to a science. Great read!

  14. christina says:

    i hear all this. and now i’m tired. 🙂

  15. Oh yeah. By 8pm, aka bedtime, I am so done. Beyond done, actually. And I also work and, like you, feel that what little time I get to spend with my daughter each day is valuable.

    And yet, when the clock strikes eight, I’m done.

  16. I am often the drill sergeant in our house too. It’s not fun being the “rule” parent and not the “fun” parent. But someone must enforce it When Daddy is out of town I get to bedtime as quickly as possible!

  17. Drill Sergeant Mom – I hear you!! I’m at work all day too and I try to have good patience through the witching hours, but if it’s 8 and he’s still up. Oh no. Not having it. At all. Great post!

  18. These days I get my older daughter to read to my younger one because by bed time I am wiped out. (and bedtime with my 5th is way later than it was with the first and second)

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